Connect Faith’s 2018 Memory Makers

By Betty Ann Graham, December 3, 2018

Laura Whitaker

Executive Director, Extra Special People

Athens, Georgia

How I got here: My journey with ESP began as a student volunteer during my time at the University of Georgia. In 2004, our executive director Martha Wyllie unexpectedly passed away, leaving ESP without a director and our summer camp at risk of closing. With support of our community, I was able to raise enough money ($50,000) to save the camp, and I was honored, when at the age of 19, Martha’s family chose me to become executive director.

Greatest career accomplishments: In 2015, we raised $3 million for our ESP gym and activities center. In the last year, we secured a multimillion-dollar grant for children with developmental disabilities and their families, and teamed up with architects to help shape the design of the country’s first fully accessible camp, Camp Hooray.

Event I am proud of helping produce: What started as a talent show for our ESP participants in a school auditorium has now grown into an annual fundraising event. Last year, Big Hearts raised more than $100,000 as thousands of families and fans sold out Athens’ Classic Center Theatre.

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